FBI warns of ‘new level’ terrorist threat
Following Hamas’ latest attack on Israel, the US has faced an elevated threat of terrorism, FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Domestic counterintelligence and combating terrorism are part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) portfolio, and Wray was briefing the Senate Judiciary Committee about the agency’s activities.
“I've never seen a time where all the threats or so many of the threats are all elevated, all at exactly the same time,” Wray told Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is the ranking member of the committee.
“Would you say there’s multiple blinking red lights out there?” Graham asked, referencing the phrase used to describe the warning signs prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“I see blinking red lights everywhere,” said Wray.
Graham, who is a prominent supporter of Israel, wanted to know how much of a danger Hamas posed and whether it could be described as the biggest threat facing the US since 9/11. Wray agreed that after October 7, a “veritable rogue’s gallery of foreign terrorist organizations” has been calling for attacks in the US.
As of right now, the FBI has “no information to indicate that [Hamas] has the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the US,” according to Wray’s prepared testimony. The Bureau is “especially concerned about the possibility of [Hamas] supporters engaging in violence on the group’s behalf,” he noted.
The greatest terrorism threat on US soil comes from “lone actors or small cells of individuals who typically radicalize to violence online, and who primarily use easily accessible weapons to attack soft targets,” Wray wrote. The FBI classifies these individuals as “homegrown violent extremists” (HVE).
The Bureau has increasingly focused on going after Americans, Wray noted, more than doubling the number of domestic terrorism probes since the spring of 2020. As of September, the FBI had about 4,000 international terrorism investigations open, compared to 2,700 domestic ones as of November.
On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee issued a report blasting the Bureau for treating traditional Catholics as suspected domestic terrorists, suggesting this was politically motivated persecution.
“Remember when [President] Joe Biden stood in front of Independence Hall and talked about how one-half of the country is fascist?” Congressman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who chairs the committee, told Fox News on Monday evening. “It’s this whole mindset. If you’re pro-life, if you’re a traditional Catholic, somehow you’re radical, somehow you’re an extremist.”